Detecting counterfeit banknotes
The study's focus was to ascertain whether the condition of banknotes affects counterfeit detection.
Banknotes in circulation are subject to European minimum quality standards, as good quality is important for the automatic processing of banknotes and contributes to the public's general confidence in the euro. However, central banks sometimes decide to apply more stricter standards, partly because of the consideration that it is easier to identify counterfeit banknotes when they are among cleaner banknotes. If this is not the case, Eurosystem central banks could allow slightly soiled banknotes to remain in circulation without any negative consequences for counterfeit detection – while lowering the costs incurred for replacing soiled banknotes.
Cashiers more vigilant
Consumers spotted an average of 79% of the most common counterfeit banknotes, while cashiers performed better, detecting 88%. Experience plays a role here, as the study also showed that the ability to spot forged notes increased the longer the test went on.
When the authentic notes in the test set were cleaner, cashiers were able to identify a higher number of counterfeit notes. However, this was also accompanied by an increase in the number of genuine banknotes incorrectly identified as counterfeit. Moreover, the participants in the study mostly viewed brand new banknotes as suspicious.
Whether the banknotes in circulation are clean or slightly soiled makes no difference to the consumers' ability to spot counterfeits. However, this does not mean the quality standards of the banknotes in circulation can be lowered. After all, this would affect cashiers, as they have to evaluate many more banknotes on a daily basis than consumers. On the other hand, however, cashiers can often make use of counterfeit detection equipment.
A few seconds is enough
Older people have more difficulty spotting counterfeit notes than younger people, and they check fewer security features. The more security features checked, the higher the test score. You can learn more about security featureshere.
The study confirms the Eurosystem's assumption that it takes only "a few seconds" to spot a counterfeit banknote. To check the authenticity of a banknote, checkout staff require on average 5 seconds and consumers need 6.3 seconds. People who needed 10 seconds or more did not achieve better results than those who required less time.
Stricter measures unnecessary
Based on this study, each national bank can now decide whether it wants to set its own individual requirements for the condition of banknotes that are stricter than prevailing European standards. De Nederlandsche Bank maintains the European minimum standard for sorting euro banknotes, and sees no reason to impose stricter requirements.